Tour d’Alsace Stage 2: Eenkhoorn in the Breakaway, Cras Seventh27. July 2017, La Planche des Belles Filles (FRA) — Development Team
After a unique start to the Tour d’Alsace, with teams split in two for the opening team time trial, the peloton lined up for the first road stage of the week with Pascal Eenkhoorn riding out at the front of the race before Steff Cras secured a top ten finish on La Planche des Belle Filles.
It was a fast start to stage 2 with the peloton covering 49km in the first hour of racing before allowing 16 riders, including Eenkhoorn and Callum Scotson, to go clear and form the day’s breakaway.
The group’s advantage rose quickly and reached 3’30” before the peloton reacted and pulled them back to within 2’40” after 90km, of the 148.1km course.
With all three of the day’s categorized climbs coming in the second half of the stage, the gap between the breakaway and rest of the field remained steady before the front of the race exploded going over the top of the climb to Emoulières.
Eenkhoorn was then part of a six-rider group that continued to push on at the front of the race and, as they began to climb the Col de Chevrères, the leaders were holding onto an advantage of around 1’30”.
The peloton was still chasing hard behind with BMC Development Team protecting Steff Cras and keeping him in a good position at the front, as they headed onto La Planche des Belle Filles and towards the finish line at the summit of the category one climb.
The attacks then flew off the front of the quickly reducing main bunch as the General Classification contenders began to try their luck against one another. However, in the end, three riders from the original breakaway were able to stay out in front with Markus Hoelgaard (Joker - Icopal) eventually taking a solo stage win ahead of Lucas Hamilton (Australia U23 Cycling Team) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto - Soudal U23).
After a strong ride out at the front of the race for most of the day, Eenkhoorn slipped back from the lead group in the closing 2km of the race and was eventually caught by a group of chasers, including Cras, that rode over the finish line together.
Cras was BMC Development Team's top-placed rider, crossing the line seventh to move into same position on the General Classification, behind the new race leader, Hoelgaard.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was a really fast start to the stage and it was really good for the team when Pascal Eenkhoorn and Callum Scotson made it into the breakaway. It took some of the pressure off us in the peloton. The guys did a great job of keeping me in a good position at the front of the bunch. When we started to climb, the gap to the breakaway started to fall and over the first two climbs we began to catch riders from the original breakaway. On the final climb, the attacks started and so it was full gas all the way and then we caught Pascal around 1.5km from the top. Three guys were able to stay out in front and we rode to the finish together.”
“I was feeling good and the gap to the winner was just a little too big to close but looking ahead to the rest of the race, I think we have a few cards to play tomorrow and then we hit the mountains again and I am looking forward to going for a good result there.”
“I tried a lot at the beginning of the race to try and force a breakaway. Eventually, once we were out in front, I was feeling good all day especially as we started to climb but I think, in the end, I did too much work with the climbers in the breakaway early on and, eventually I just blew up inside the last 2km of the stage.”
Stage 2: Velleminfroy > La Planche des Belles Filles, 148.1km
Top 3: 1. Markus Hoelgaard (Joker - Icopal) 2. Lucas Hamilton (Australia U23 Cycling Team) 3. Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto - Soudal U23).
BMC Development Team Top 3: 6. Steff Cras 20. Pascal Eenkhoorn 95. Jasper Philipsen